Saturday, March 31, 2012

Yeniden Gramsci: Hegemonya, Devlet ve Yeniden Devrim Sorunu

27. Sayı – Yeniden Gramsci: Hegemonya, Devlet ve Yeniden Devrim Sorunu

Sayı Editörü: Ebru Deniz Ozan, Deniz Yıldırım

Bu Sayıda
Sosyolojik Marksizmin Sınırları?
Adam David Morton
Pasif Devrimlerde Toplum, Siyaset ve Bloklar
Cihan Tuğal
Galip Yalman’la Gramsci Üzerine Söyleşi
Antonio Gramsci’nin Organik Bütünlük Anlayışı Çerçevesinde Devrimi Yeniden Düşünmek Gökhan Demir
Ali Yalçın Göymen
Antonio Gramsci’nin Türkiye Serüveni
Fuat Özdinç – Ümit Özger
İslami Burjuvazinin Siyasal İktisadı: MÜSİAD Örneği
Berkay Ayhan – Seher Sağıroğlu
2011 Krizinin Gölgesinde Yeni Sanayi Politikaları Üzerine Bir Not
Ümit Akçay
Değerler ve Değer Yaratma Süreci: İşletmeTarihi Bağlamında Bir Deneme ya da Politik İktisadın Sosyolojik Eleştirisine Eleştiri
Koray R.Yılmaz
“Devrimci-Halkçı Yerel Yönetimler Sempozyumu”
Begüm Özden Fırat

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Susan Buck-Morss: "Sharing is the New Property"

Susan Buck-Morss is a political philosopher whose writings I have started following after I read her book on Islamism and Critical Theory in 2008. This was a collection of her talks given at various locations to various audiences about the common or similar theoretical motivations and reasonings behind Islamism and Critical Theory, and perhaps a possible "alliance" between them against the liberal-capitalist power structures dominating not only the space, but also the minds and the hearts.

When I heard that she was going to visit Istanbul to give a talk at Istanbul Sehir University, I was very excited. Listening to her was going to be a nice experience for me, and it really was like I thought it would be. But there was even more to that. Before her returning back to the USA, I managed to arrange a meeting with her at her hotel lobby. We sat down and talked for about an hour and exchanged thoughts on various issues. She signed a book for me, and we took a photograph together. The photo is not in great quality since we didn't have a good camera with us, but of course it is better than nothing

Feyzullah Yilmaz & Susan Buck-Morss & Alp Eren Topal

Now, I will write here some headlines from her speech:

1) "globalization is a new time, not space"

2) "universal human characteristics"

3) "Sharing is the new property": The nicest part in her speech, I think, was about the things she said about property. She made a distinction between the capitalist property, that is private ownership of things out of which alienation emerges, and socialist property in which there is a common state ownership regarding things. After describing these two forms of property, she argued that in today's globalizing world, sharing is or will be the new property. She said that identities, cultures, ideas, things, etc. are being shared, and this is becoming the new form of property today.

4) "no fault-lines between us and them"

5) "we are all interconnected"

6) "not the end of history as such, but the end of history of a certain kind"

7) The title of her speech was "Democracy Incompleted", and toward the end of her speech, she talked about three paradoxes of democracy which have to be dealt with if democracy is to be "completed".

a) the huge gap between the poor and the rich
b) the gap between democratic egalitarianism versus elitism
c) the gap between nation-state thinking and global thinking

8) "political islam owes much to marxism in its critique of capitalism"

9) "islamism, i.e. zakat or islamic banking, is not (cannot be) the solution to the problems of today's liberal-capitalist world order"

10) During the question and answer section, she was asked whether there was no validity at all about the concepts such as civilization, western civilization, islamic civilization, etc. - the concepts she criticized during her presentation. In her reply, she made a comment about being a theorist, and I liked it. She said. "One of the tasks of the theorist is to shift/change the concepts and conceptual understandings, not to harden them."

Monday, March 5, 2012

Antonio A. Santucci, "Antonio Gramsci"

Antonio Gramsci, by Antonio A. Santucci. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2010.  $0.00; paper, $0.00 US. ISBN: 978-1-58367-210-5. Pages: 7-201.

Does Gramsci still have something to tell us in a world “without communism”? Can we, as Joseph A. Buttigieg argues, consider Gramsci’s writings as a classic which is both an expression of its epoch, and also an effort to resist contingency and remain open to dialogue with future generations? (p. 19). Antonio A. Santucci’s, an eminent philological scholar of Gramscian texts, well-written intellectual biography of Antonio Gramsci can be viewed as an attempt to answer these questions. In doing this, Santucci provides us not only with a critical evaluation of Gramsci’s ideas, but also tries to explain how they might still be valid for today. It is important to pay attention to Santucci’s interpretation of Gramsci because, as Buttigieg makes it clear, it is through his philologically scrupulous editions of L’Ordine Nuovo [The New Order] (with Valentino Gerratana), Letters: 1909-1926, and Letters from Prison, scholars and students have reliable access to some of Gramsci’s most important writings. (p.10).

In addition to a Preface written by Eric Hobsbawm and a Foreword by Joseph A. Buttigieg, the book consists of five chapters which are Introduction, The Political Writings, The Letters from Prison, The Prison Notebooks, and End-of-Century Gramsci. The chapters reflect Santucci’s distinguishing of Gramsci’s “writings preceeding his incarceration and those of his prison years. To the former belong the hundreds of articles published in various periodicals until the end of 1926; to the latter belong the Letters from Prison and the Prison Notebooks.” (p. 30).

In an intellectual biography, the author tries to provide his/her readers in a coherent manner of the ideas and events that surround intellectual’s life. It can be said that Santucci deals successfully with this challenge by presenting the life-story of Antonio Gramsci without losing the in-depth analysis of his ideas. The links between the text and the context throughout the life of the intellectual is presented in a successful way, that is, Santucci presents both the impact of the context on the ideas of Gramsci, and also the efforts of Gramsci to influence the context through his ideas and writings.

The book’s contributions to the debates regarding Gramsci and his ideas can be gathered under two headings: theoretical and methodological. Theoretically, Santucci tries to contribute to the debates by pointing out to Gramsci’s criticisms of Marx, and of different interpretations of Marxism. For instance, he argues that Gramsci’s criticisms were directed toward Bukharin’s dogmatic Marxism which was mechanistic, lacked dialectical spirit, and produced historical and political determinism. (p. 149). Santucci argues that Gramsci was both against the attempts to canonize Marxism and also to mechanistic and determinist interpretations of Marxism. In place of this determinism and economism, Gramsci tried to open up more space for the subjective element of the will, or in other words, the power of the agency. What is more interesting, I think, is Santucci’s attempt to show the intellectual evolution of Gramsci from being a Crocean to being a Marxist. Being strongly influenced by the idealist Italian philosopher Benedetto Croce, Young Gramsci’s idealistic formation is evident in many of his writings in this period, says Santucci. (p.65). However, later, in a similar way to Marx’s relation with Hegel, Gramsci left Croce behind and developed an anti-Crocean stance with the help of Marx. Finally, the closer Gramsci approached Marx, the more his intellectual path diverged from that of Croce. (p. 146).

Reading Gramsci is also useful to be reminded of various methodological issues and problems that can emerge while studying political theory. Some of the issues Gramsci is concerned with are the idea of leitmotif, importance of dialectical thinking and anti-dogmatism, and particularism as opposed to totalizing approaches. While approaching a political philosopher, Gramsci argues that instead of isolated quotations, one should be interested in the leitmotif that provides the general motivation for this particular philosopher. Again, instead of universalism, totalizing theories and determinism, one should pay attention to particularism, inseperability of theory and practice, and dialogical and dialectical thinking. By presenting Gramsci’s own approach to the classics of political theory, Santucci warns scholars who utilize Gramsci’s ideas and concepts in their studies to not to look for isolated sentences or supporting arguments, but instead to be faithful to Gramsci’s general message, or his leitmotif.

In addition to these theoretical and methodological debates, in the first chapter, Santucci discusses the method of Gramsci, the outline of his notebooks, and how to categorize his writings. He talks about Gramsci’s concerns about temporary, perhaps superficial writings on the one hand, and philosophical, more coherent and systematic writings on the other. Also he explains Gramsci’s ability to combine practice and theory, thought and action, and how his thinking of the intellectual is related with other parts of his theory, such as culture, politics, education.

In the second chapter, Political Writings, which is devoted to the analysis of the journalistic writings of Gramsci, Santucci tells about Gramsci’s journalism, the Ordine Nuovo experience, and about the intense and close relationship between Gramsci as the journalist, and the proletariat life in the industrial city of Turin. Although Gramsci considers his journalistic writings as superficial and temporary, in his pre-prison writings, as Santucci shows, one can find the initial core thoughts and arguments which later will become the basis of his more theoretical concepts and ideas, such as historical bloc, political party, and hegemony.

In the third chapter, Santucci explains how Gramsci’s personal letters which were mostly sent to his relatives can help us understand his theoretical development. Later, in the fourth chapter, he discusses the Prison Notebooks.

In the final chapter, Santucci returns to the question of whether or not Gramsci can guide us today, but sounds a bit ambigious. Despite the crisis of the historical communism and the disappearance of the Italian Communist Party from the political scene, which are important in thinking about Gramsci’s relevance today, (p. 162) Santucci argues that as long as questions related to justice, freedom and equality remain unsolved, Gramsci’s ideas would remain valid in confronting current problems. However, he argues that “if Gramsci is not relevant in these cases, it is because major politics, which goes beyond the simple administrative tasks, […] has lost topicality as well. If they continue to stand on the sidelines, then indeed Gramsci’s ideas will definitely be defeated. However, a defeat of Gramsci’s ideas could also signify a collective defeat." (p. 173).

In brief, Santucci tackles well with the challenge of providing the reader an integrated story of the ideas and life of Antonio Gramsci. It can make significant contributions  to the methodological and theoretical debates about Gramsci. Especially his emphasis on the concept of leitmotif, dialogical and dialectical thinking, anti-dogmatism, particularism can serve as guiding principles for scholars who continue to study on Gramsci’s ideas.